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AI server EGS platform upgrade drives high-speed PCB demand

With the development of technologies such as AI servers, the demand for high-speed PCBs will further increase, and high-speed PCBs will become an important part of the future electronics industry. At present, high-speed PCBs have been widely used in data center switches, AI servers, and automotive intelligence. The upgrade of the AI server/EGS platform drives the demand for high-speed PCBs. It is estimated that in 2024, only the OAM boards, UBB boards, and CPU motherboards with large value in AI servers are expected to bring a market increase of US$1 billion. The increase in the penetration rate of the EGS platform is also expected to open new market space.

Table of Contents

What is a high-speed PCB?

High speed PCB is a special printed circuit board, which is mainly used in high-speed digital circuits that need to ensure the integrity of signal transmission.

High-speed PCB
High-speed PCB

Frequency and transmission speed of high-speed signals

The signal frequency and transmission speed in high-speed PCB design are usually higher than that of general PCB. This means that in high-speed PCB design, signal integrity and anti-interference capabilities need to be considered to ensure accurate transmission and reception of signals. To do this, a series of design and manufacturing techniques are required, such as signal integrity analysis, simulation, optimized layout and wiring, and so on.

Line width and spacing requirements

In high-speed PCB design, the requirements of line width and spacing are usually stricter than those of general PCBs. This is because the transmission of high-speed signals requires smaller line widths and smaller spacings to reduce signal propagation delays and cross-interference. In addition, it is also necessary to pay attention to the distance between the signal and the ground wire in order to reduce the noise and distortion of the signal.

Selection of PCB materials

High-speed PCB design usually requires the use of high-performance PCB materials, such as high-frequency organic materials, PTFE and composite materials. These materials have low dielectric constant and dielectric loss, which can reduce signal propagation delay and noise. In addition, attention needs to be paid to the thermal expansion coefficient and temperature stability of the material to ensure stable performance of the board in high temperature and humidity environments.

High-speed PCBs are mainly used in high-speed digital circuits

High-speed PCB is a special printed circuit board, mainly used in high-speed digital circuits, which can ensure the integrity of signal transmission. High-speed PCB is characterized by high signal transmission rate, low signal attenuation, low crosstalk, low noise and other advantages, which can meet the requirements of high-speed digital circuits for signal integrity and electromagnetic compatibility. The design and manufacture of high-speed PCBs need to consider many factors, such as line impedance matching, signal return paths, signal reference planes, shielding layers, terminal processing, signal integrity analysis, etc., to ensure the performance and reliability of high-speed PCBs. 

With the development of technologies such as AI servers, the demand for high-speed PCBs will further increase, and high-speed PCBs will become an important part of the future electronics industry. At present, high-speed PCBs have been widely used in data center switches, AI servers, and automotive intelligence.

Upstream materials are critical to high-speed PCB performance

The selection and quality of upstream materials directly affect the performance and reliability of high-speed PCBs. CCL accounts for about 30% of PCB production costs, and its dielectric constant (Dk) and dielectric loss factor (Df) values directly determine PCB performance. The lower the dielectric constant (Dk), the faster the signal transmission speed; the smaller the loss factor (Df), the smaller the signal transmission loss. 

High-speed CCLs
High-speed CCLs

High-speed CCLs need to have the characteristics of high signal transmission speed, high characteristic impedance accuracy, low transmission signal dispersion, and low loss (Df). The three main raw materials of CCL include copper foil, glass fiber cloth and resin. Copper foil, resin, and glass fiber cloth account for about 42.1%, 26.1%, and 19.1% of the cost of copper clad laminates, respectively, accounting for nearly 90% of the total. The selection of copper foil, glass fiber cloth and resin is also very important. For example, in high-frequency and high-speed circuits, HVLP copper foil with low roughness, P-glass fiberglass cloth with low dielectric constant and dissipation factor, and PPO resin with low dielectric constant and dissipation factor are usually selected.

AI server/EGS platform upgrade drives high-speed PCB demand

AI server refers to a server specially used to support artificial intelligence applications. Its main features are high-performance processors, large-capacity memory, high-speed network and large-scale storage. The EGS (EagleStream) platform is a new generation server platform launched by Intel, which supports new technologies such as PCIe5.0, DDR5, and CXL, and provides higher performance, lower power consumption, and better scalability. 

With the upgrade of AI server and EGS platform, high-speed PCB needs to meet higher frequency, faster rate, smaller loss, lower delay and other requirements, which puts forward higher standards for PCB design and manufacturing capabilities. According to estimates, in 2024, only OAM boards, UBB boards, and CPU mainboards, which are of relatively large value in AI servers, are expected to bring a market increase of US$1 billion. The increase in the penetration rate of the EGS platform is also expected to open up new market space.

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